Monday, November 10, 2008
City Council Meeting: Nov. 10, 2008
A work session(Delchamp's room)) was held prior where these items were discussed: A debate on where's best to hold work sessions. Kingrea favored the Council Chambers to encouarge more public participation, but Quinn worried about logisics of setting up/taking down needed tables and about making Council meetings even more lengthly for people to sit through. Mixon proposed it be left out of the new "Council Procedures Ordinance" until resolved. Others wondered why more of the public don't speak out at these sessions.(?) The Mayor arrived late and reported Revenue Commissioner- elect Tommy Faust expects downtown property appraisals to rise significantly this year. In another matter concerning check writing amounts, he commented "the city spends a million dollars a week." He also revealed the new parking deck will not be open for the Xmas season and mentioned a possible "trolley" to ferry customers to other parking lots( lease it for $4,500/mo.) COUNCIL MEETING: In brief opening comments, the Mayor admitted he "made a mistake" spending public money to clear private land in Quail Creek last September-- after the payment check had been "stopped" by "a council member." Also, that the Corps. of Engineers had cited the City for "wetland damage" in the same matter. Councilman Mixon read from the so-called "Dillon Rule" of Al. Law that now governs city operations(Strong Council) and describes the new duties of the Mayor and Council reaspectively. Copies were handed out to interested audience members. Councilman Kingrea commented these changes (Dillon Rule) "should have been made 4 years ago" and urged everyone to "help move the city forward": predicting It will take "3 or 4 months to straighten things out." A brief "unaudited" finance report was given by Rose Fogarty. Calling Fiscal 2008 "a year of challenges"-- she reported all net revenue down(General Fund, Utilitiy Funds). The Golf Fund was $90,732 in the red and the Water Fund in particular had "a bad year." The extent of the use of borrowed money to cover expenses was unclear. The new "Council Procedures Ordinance" ("Dillon Rule")was approved on a 4-1 vote. Among other concerns, Ford thought the Mayor should be able to call Special Council Meetings too, but Mixon retorted he(Mayor) now has "nothing to do with the Council" --according to Alabama Laws. Ford ended by saying he, "didn't like that kind of attitude." END OF FIRST EDITON An ordinance appointing the Mayor as Utilities Superentendent was repealed. An ordinance permitting the Council members to hire/dismiss City Officers(managers), if necessary, had to be layed over due to objections by Ford--who cited "Irish philosopher Edmund Burke's" warning that 'power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely'." Mixon retorted that employees "having more people to appeal to" would be better than leaving all such authority in one man's hands as it is now (Mayor). Kingrea agreed. [Editor's note: The quote; ". . . absolute power corrupts absolutely" was actually made by 19th century English historian Lord John Acton. Edmund Burke was, in fact, an 18th century British "statesman" and political writer.] Finance Committee Chairman Lonnie Mixon gave a brief report: all Dept. Heads were asked to reduce spending; requested Council to freeze all hirings and promotions for 90 days(passed 4-1 over Ford's dissent); observed many cities are having to reduce work force due to national economiic crisis. A request from Baldwin EMC for financial aid to connect our Barnwell Rec. Center electric lighting in time for the 'Pee Wee' football league was approved. Mixon observed that "excessive recreation was a luxury we can no longer afford" and the "money would be better spent on city infrastructure improvements." The Council then went in to Executive Session to discuss possible litigation.